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Suspected poacher mauled to death, eaten by pack of lions in South Africa

USA TODAY logo USA TODAY 2/12/2018 Matthew Diebel
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A suspected poacher in South Africa was mauled to death and almost completely eaten by a pack of lions, according to multiple media reports.

The remains were found over the weekend in the bush at a private game park just outside the famed Kruger National Park, which lies in the far northeast of the country.

Officials found a rifle and ammunition next to the body, according to the local Eyewitness News website.

"It seems the victim was poaching in the game park when he was attacked and killed by lions. They ate his body, nearly all of it, and just left his head and some remains," police spokesman Moatshe Ngoepe said. Police are trying to establish the victim's identity.

an animal standing on grass: Crystal Symphony passengers stopping for sunset cocktails in the bush at the Phinda Private Game Reserve get a surprise when two lions approach the area. © Gene Sloan, USA TODAY Crystal Symphony passengers stopping for sunset cocktails in the bush at the Phinda Private Game Reserve get a surprise when two lions approach the area. "We are still trying all other means, including the Home Affairs Department, to get his history, which may lead us to his residential place," Ngoepe told the Sowetan newspaper.

"The process of identifying the deceased has already commenced and it might be made possible by the fact that his head is among the remains that were found at the scene."

Earlier, it was thought the dead man was a farmworker whose tractor had broken down, Eyewitness News reported. However, Ngoepe said that farmworker was found alive — his tractor did break down, but he managed to walk to safety.

The incident comes just months after a poacher was charged and severely injured by a rhino he was hunting for its horn in nearby Namibia. Lion and tiger bones and elephant and rhino horns are prized in Asia for their supposed restorative and virility powers.

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